Wildlife Board fumes over Hubballi-Ankola rail project

Wildlife Board members fume over Hubballi-Ankola rail project

Congress MLA Sowmya Reddy

Outraged over the state government’s move the clear the controversial Hubballi-Ankola railway project cutting through the biodiversity-rich Western Ghats, members of the state Wildlife Board have threatened to resign en masse on a dissenting note.

In fact, leading the flock, Congress MLA from Jayanagar and member of the board Sowmya Reddy on Friday submitted her resignation to Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa. 

Taking a cue from Sowmya, several other members have also decided to submit their resignations to the board alleging that the board has failed to protect what it stands for. “There is no point in serving on a board, which was meant to conserve flora and fauna but has decided to destroy our last standing forest patch,” remarked a member. 

Confirming her resignation, Sowmya told DH that she was upset with the way the government went ahead with its choice despite stiff opposition from the members.

“In less than 10 days' time, the government decides to hold back-to-back meetings just to clear one project despite opposition. It is morally unacceptable to continue in such a position. If the Wildlife Board does not stand up for conservation, then who else will come forth for the conservation of forests and wildlife?” she questioned. 

In her letter, Sowmya wrote, “Why was the state government insisting on the project despite the availability of an alternative route? Why did it take such a hasty decision in the absence of the forest minister?”

Evidently, 50% of the members of the Wildlife Board, including Forest Minister Anand Singh, were missing during Friday’s meeting. Yet, the chief minister-led committee, under intense pressure from vested interests, approved the project, said Sowmya Reddy in the letter. 

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